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Dietary guidelines can help us make better decisions about what we eat.

Dietary guidelines

Dietary guidelines provide helpful evidence-based recommendations.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, over 100 counties in the world have food-based dietary guidelines.

Country-specific food-based dietary guidelines (or simply dietary guidelines) provide culturally-appropriate evidence-based recommendations on healthy diets. These are developed according to current needs, food availability and eating habits.

Apart from some regional and cultural differences, dietary guidelines provide common messages, such as:

  • consume wide variety of foods, including fruit, vegetables, starchy staples, and legumes
  • limit sugar, fat, and salt consumption.

The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) outlines universal dietary recommendations that are based on fundamental principles of a healthy diet for adults:

  • to consume unprocessed fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains
  • to eat at least 400g of fruit and vegetables every day
  • to ideally have less than 5% of total energy intake from added sugar
  • to have less than 30% of total energy intake from fats (preferably from unsaturated plant fats) and to decrease intake of saturated and trans-fats to below 10% and 1% respectively
  • to have less than 5g salt per day (with iodised salt preferred).

There is some scepticism associated with dietary guidelines, largely due to poor dietary intake world-wide. The actual compliance with dietary guidelines is often low, particularly in regards to under consumption of fruit and vegetables and over consumption of foods high in added sugar, fats and sodium.

Following dietary guidelines and recommendations is associated with better physical and mental health across different countries and cultures, such as Alzheimer’s in Korean elderly, depressive symptoms and the weight status of Australians.

Your task

Investigate what dietary guideline exist in your country. To start with, you might like to visit the country-specific dietary guidelines.

What key recommendations are included in these guidelines?

Share your findings with your peers in the comments.

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This article is from the free online course:

Food and Mood : Improving Mental Health Through Diet and Nutrition

Deakin University